Immigration Is American

by | Sep 17, 2014 | Immigration

What happens when the immigrant does that, goes to the U.S. embassy and says, I'd like to work in America legally?

Conservatives rightly point out that America is a nation of laws. No one should be exempt. That’s why many oppose amnesty and other paths to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are here now.

“If they want to be in America,” the argument goes, “they ought to return to their own countries and apply for a visa legally. America should not reward law breaking.”

That sounds sensible — but what happens when the immigrant does that, goes to the U.S. embassy and says, I’d like to work in America legally?

He gets paperwork to fill out and is told to go home to wait. And wait. A Forbes investigation found that a computer programmer from India must wait, on average, 11 years. A high school graduate from Mexico must wait an average 130 years!

We tell eager workers, “Do it legally; just wait 130 years”? This makes no sense. We should make legal immigration easier, relax the rules, issue work permits. Conservatives usually understand that complex regulations make life hard for people. Immigration bureaucracy makes life harder not just for the immigrants but for the rest of us.

America needs immigrants. Immigrants co-founded most of Silicon Valley’s start-ups. The Patent Office says immigrants invent things at twice the rate of native-born Americans.

Immigrants are special people, people with the ambition and guts to leave their home to pursue an American dream. We ought to let more of them in. And not just PhD’s. Half of America’s agricultural workers are here illegally, according to the Department of Agriculture. But without them, the government says food would cost much more. Milk would cost 61 percent more.

Some people say, well, maybe immigrants in the past were a boon to America, but now there are just too many. They make up 12 percent of the population! True. But in 1915, it was 15 percent.

Others complain that immigrants once worked hard and tried to assimilate, but today’s immigrants are different: less educated, more likely to collect welfare, less likely to adopt the American work ethic.

Maybe. But I doubt it. Every new immigrant group has been derided as backward, unclean or criminal.

Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge (R, Mass.) called Slovaks “illiterate and ignorant in the extreme.” He called Italians “the lowest type as to character and intelligence.” Irish immigrants had such a bad reputation that in job advertisements businesses posted job notices: “No Irish need apply.”

Fears about newcomers weren’t totally unfounded. It took them time to assimilate and accumulate wealth. But they did. The Irish, Italians and other once-vilified groups are now leaders in America.

People say that immigrants steal “our” jobs. And yes, they do take some. But they create new jobs, too, lots. When people move to another country and encounter a different culture, they see things in new ways. Some pick the best from each culture and create useful things.

Imagine your life without Google searches, cheap Ikea furniture, YouTube, bicycles, blenders, ATM’s. All came from immigrants. New Americans also gave us blow dryers, basketball, football, the first shopping mall, comfortable jeans, even the American hot dog (that came from Germany’s frankfurter).

Immigration enriches our language. Jewish immigrants gave us the word “glitch.” “Gee whiz” came from the Irish. The song “God Bless America” was written by an immigrant — the prolific Irving Berlin, born in Russia.

The TV network on which my weekly show is broadcast exists only because an immigrant from Australia saw the need for Fox News. And I’m only here because my parents left Germany in 1930, a year when immigration rules were still pretty lax (if you weren’t Chinese, since there were racist quotas).

Today, we’d solve many problems if work permits were available and legal immigration easier. If people can come here legally, fewer sneak in. It will be easier to secure the border because police can focus on actual criminals and terrorists. As Lao-tzu said, “the greater the number of laws and enactments, the more thieves and robbers there will be.”

America should say yes to immigration.

8 Comments

  1. I’m even more radical than Stossel on immigration, supporting open immigration; however, about citizenship, I’m perhaps much more “Draconian.” (Indeed–siding a bit with Heinlein’s view on this issue–I might even consider those born here having also to pass a citizenship test.)

    When I was growing up–and it still may be the case–the route to American citizenship was arduous. Immigrants had to pass what I would call college level American history & civics classes, as well as classes on America’s political and economic philosophy. Once completed, in most instances immigrants seeking citizenship had a better understanding and were more knowledgeable than many Americans about the United States. That process ought never be changed. Indeed, that process ought be made even more difficult; as well, of course, such classes ought be made much more accurate in identifying the proper principles and ideas behind the founding of America. A little Ayn Rand here (in such classes) would go a long way to achieving that.

    Coming to America ought be easy; becoming an American ought be a very challenging process.

    As for amnesty to citizenship, that asinine proposal ought be squashed immediately.

  2. As a British Objectivist, and thus someone who has seen the real world consequences of the hypothetical utopia that you’re proposing, please allow me to give you some other examples of what also happens when you actually have open immigration.

    And what the US can look forward if ever it was adopted there:

    Immigrants blowing themselves and their fellow citizens up on tube trains and buses

    Immigrants beheading their fellow citizens in the street

    Immigrants killing their own family members if they feel they’ve been slighted in some way

    No go areas where only people of the ethnicity and religion of the immigrants can venture

    Patrols that enforce, with violence, the religious laws of immigrants on those who don’t follow that religion

    A plethora of immigrant paedophile gangs who kidnap and rape the children of their fellow citizens, and ONLY the children of their fellow citizens

    Whole cities that have been taken over by a certain type of immigrant meaning that that city will always vote along ethnic or religious line, often to the detriment of their fellow citizens

    Immigrant children being murdered because the immigrant murderer believes the victim was a witch

    Immigrant women having their genitals mutilated in the name of pleasing the cultural aesthetic of their menfolk

    Immigrants becoming so demographically enormous that their particular group (which is responsible for most, if not all of that listed above) become the majority in their host nation. Meaning that all of the above will continue to happen but only now it will be officially carried out and on a much larger scale, with some additional atrocities thrown in to jazz things up a bit.

    The above is just as much part of open immigration as the fluffy bunny, rose-coloured spectacle version that open immigration types peddle. It’s just asier for them to drop this rather irksome context when trying to advertise their pie in the sky, but very dangerous, rationalism.

  3. OK, so let’s play this out your and Stossel’s way. The immigrant goes to the U.S. embassy and says, I’d like to work in America legally. The ambassador says, we’d love to have you, takes his picture, issues him and his family a visum on the spot and sends them on their merry way. The immigrant arrives in America. He starts looking for a job, maybe, but cannot find one. He goes on welfare, receives free healthcare and his children get a free education. All at the expense of the American taxpayer. I hope you and Stossel are willing to pick up my share of it because I want no part of your arrangement.

  4. This is exactly what happens in the UK. Apart from many immigrants don’t bother with the part about coming to the UK looking for work. They just arrive, get given a free home and free health care and live on benefits sponging off British taxpayers. And this is with supposed immigration “controls”.

    Okay, you may say that the UK shouldn’t have welfare system to abuse, which it shouldn’t. But it HAS got a welfare system that is abused by immigrants. So it is absurd to call for open immigration now, in the present time, at this would only exasperate matters.

    Open immigration can only ever be talked about in the context of a future Objectivist society. Open immigration now, in Obama’s US and Cameron’s UK, is sheer rationalist lunacy.

  5. I’m curious as to why the posters here believe Stossel is advocating open immigration. I don’t think he’s doing that at all. It sounds to me like he is very much saying we should be picky about who we let in. But those that aren’t likely to be problems should be given an easier path to get to this country. A programmer who graduates from the University of Mumbai should pass a background test and then be let in as soon as possible. Let’s get this person in our country and get him producing things for America. He’s eager to come and we should be eager to let him stay. A poor Mexican with no papers, 9 kids, and no understanding of English should be denied out right. As he is more likely to be a net burden on the state and less likely to produce. Criminals and terrorists are criminals and terrorists for a reason and will find a way into this country no matter how onerous our immigration policy is.

  6. Let’s make a deal. Open immigration and rapid processing of the illegals already here in exchange for no unemployment subsidy, no welfare, no Medicaid, no housing assistance, we phase out social security and medicare, no food stamps, no utility assistance, no “earned income” tax credit, we abolish the fed, return to gold or dollars backed by real gold at 100%, get rid of minimum wage laws, treat fractional reserve banking as the fraud it is, cease all government “loans” to private organizations, and we switch to a pure consumption tax that every person must pay. Deal?

  7. _________________

    America needs immigrants. Immigrants co-founded most of Silicon
    Valley’s start-ups. The Patent Office says immigrants invent things at
    twice the rate of native-born Americans.

    Immigrants are special people, people with the ambition and guts to
    leave their home to pursue an American dream. We ought to let more of
    them in. And not just PhD’s. Half of America’s agricultural workers are
    here illegally, according to the Department of Agriculture. But without
    them, the government says food would cost much more. Milk would cost 61
    percent more.

    ___________________

    I’m really getting sick of this “immigrants are better people than the rest of us” argument.

    Maybe it’s true that immigrants are getting patents at a higher rate than the natives, but something tells me that Armenian-Americans have more patents than Mexican-Americans and Moslem-Americans combined.

    ________________

    Maybe. But I doubt it. Every new immigrant group has been derided as backward, unclean or criminal.

    Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge (R, Mass.) called Slovaks “illiterate and
    ignorant in the extreme.” He called Italians “the lowest type as to
    character and intelligence.” Irish immigrants had such a bad reputation
    that in job advertisements businesses posted job notices: “No Irish need
    apply.”

    ______________

    Actually, the Irish need not apply thing is an urban legend. As far as Moslems and Mexicans being viewed like Irish and Italians, it doesn’t follow that just because Lodge was wrong 100 years ago (or whenever) that current opponents of immigration are wrong. Immigrants aren’t fungible. We now have data on second and third generation Mexican Americans and it doesn’t look good. There is no reason to believe that Moslems will contribute anything of value to American culture.

    There may be some justification for a guest worker program, but that’s about it.

  8. “magine your life without Google searches, cheap Ikea furniture, YouTube,
    bicycles, blenders, ATM’s. All came from immigrants. New Americans also
    gave us blow dryers, basketball, football, the first shopping mall,
    comfortable jeans, even the American hot dog (that came from Germany’s
    frankfurter).”

    Will wonders never end. Inconceivable that these people couldn’t have developed these in their own country and sold them to the stupid Americans. Or an evil native-born person couldn’t have come up with the idea of cheap furniture of a blender..

    Also, think the guy who founded Ikea was never an immigrant.

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John Stossel is author of No They Can't! Why Government Fails — But Individuals Succeed. For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.

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